In response to requests for photos of himself Chris Marker mails off a picture of a cat. Unlike other artists of his stature, he has never sought publicity and, in fact, has studiously avoided it. Indeed, this legendary French writer, filmmaker and multimedia artist has never granted an interview.
Even though film connoisseurs consider Marker on a par with the likes of Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Akira Kurosawa, his films are difficult to find and, until recently, could only be viewed at film festivals. Walk into a bookstore and you'll find books on people whom Marker considers his friends Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola, Laurie Anderson but you won't see a book on him. The New Yorker magazine film critic Terry Rafferty who considers Marker one of the greatest living filmmakers signed a contract for a book on Marker, and then put the project on hold when Marker himself discouraged it.
But, Marker's decades of enjoyed obscurity may be ending. [in 1996, when this peice was written, he was 75 years old] A few years ago, Zone Books published a book version of Marker's classic short film, La Jetee (1962). Adrian Miles, an ambitious graduate student in Australia, has created a World Wide Web site devoted to Marker's work. A multimedia installation of Marker's, "Silent Movie", was exhibited at Ohio's Wexner Center and New York's Museum of Modern Art during 1995, is presently at the University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California and will be at Minneapolis's Walker Art Center this Fall.
Perhaps the biggest boost to public recognition of Marker's name and creative talent, however, came in the last week of last year. That's when Universal Pictures released 12 Monkeys, a major Hollywood thriller inspired by La Jetee. 12 Monkeys is directed by Terry Gilliam, stars Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer and has Marker's name prominently displayed in the credits.